Adjusting Your Way to a Comfortable Workspace at Home:
Five Science-Based Strategies
Let’s face it: far too many of us are now dealing with aches and pains from our makeshift work-from-home setups. As an applied science, ergonomics can teach us a lot about adjusting a workplace to suit our needs – even if that workplace is now just a desk in a bedroom. Here are five science-based strategies to increase your comfort and productivity while working from home.
Pay Attention to Distance
Notice how far your desk, monitor, documents, other tools, and even your pens and pencils are away from you. University sources recommend placing your monitor just below eye level at an arm’s length away. Here are some convenient tools to help you get the distances right in your workspace while being more organized:
•A monitor arm allows you to pull the monitor closer or push it farther away when needed
•A document holder alongside your monitor makes your paperwork easily viewable
•Cable holders keep those pesky wires easily accessible and tangle-free
•An external monitor or keyboard will increase comfort if your computer is a laptop
Adjust Your Lighting and Remove Sources of Glare
Soft, dim lighting is better while using a computer screen, whereas brighter lighting is best for reading and writing on paper. If your lighting situation is adjustable, you’ll be more comfortable in different situations.
Natural lighting through a window to your side is best, if you can manage it. Task lighting can also supplement your ambient illumination, allowing you to adjust the position of the light as well as its brightness. Additionally, remember to reduce or remove sources of glare in your home, such as bright lighting or reflective surfaces. Glare screens are also a good option for computer users.
Adjust Your Sitting or Standing Position
Whatever you do, remember to move more throughout the day, because long hours of sitting can take their toll, even when you’re using the nicest of chairs. Here are some simple ways to position yourself for comfort and productivity:
A. While sitting, lean back in a slightly reclined position. The ideal setup will allow you
to maintain this position while typing. For example, Humanscale offers weight-
sensitive chairs that adjust automatically as you move. Even the armrests move
B. As you type, keep your shoulders, arms, wrists and fingers in as neutral and relaxed a position as possible. Ideally, your forearms are parallel to your thighs, which are parallel to the floor. Read more at the Princeton University Heal
C. Sit differently. Many office chairs are adjustable, and lower back support is especially important as you sit for long hours. Princeton University recommends a chair that supports your back “in an upright and relaxed arch position.” Or else add
a lumbar support pillow and place it at your lower back.
D. While it’s important to take walking and stretch breaks, a sit/stand desk will also allow you to read, write, and use the computer while standing.
E. Place your feet flat on the floor. If your chair height is too high for that, use a footrest instead.
Adjust Your Focus
According to the American Optometric Association, one simple way to reduce eyestrain is to follow the 20-20-20 rule. Here's how it works: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break to look at something 20 feet away.
Notice How You Feel
Please don’t ignore simple comfort. It’s your home and your personal preference, especially if the workspace will be mostly for your use as an individual. The more people who share a space, the more adjustable it should ideally be to maximize each person’s comfort.
Be sure to keep in mind that sometimes, shorter term comfort is different than longer term comfort. Have you ever had the experience of sitting in a soft chair, only to find yourself feeling sore hours later? This experience shows exactly why, as a designer, I work with my clients to find well designed, durable, adjustable furniture.
As an interior designer, it’s my job to keep myself updated on the latest trends in furniture, lighting, color, and more. My goal is to design a space that will be comfortable and functional for years to come. Call me at (516) 234-5425, or email email@example.com.